When Paul was asked why he didn't try to make Housing Maps a startup, he apparently gave two reasons he decided not to:
- He did not own the data that was powering the application.
- The barrier to entry for such an application was low since there was no unique intellectual property or user interface design to his application.
The ideas are often clever and useful but, once someone has demonstrated a mashup idea, there is little to stop others from duplicating it. If there is no novel technology and no proprietary data, there are no barriers to entry. The software is merely an intermediary connecting two other pieces of software. There is minimal value add; most of the value lies in the underlying services.
Mashups by themselves cannot be a startup. While startups can leverage existing web services to avoid recreating the wheel, there has to be something else, some additional data, some additional software, some novel technology, in the service for it to be a business.
Update: Five months later, alarm:clock reports that VCs are "dissing mashups .... because they are not readily defensible."